Wednesday, April 27, 2011

30 Songs, 30 Days (2009 Edition), Day Twenty Two: Russian Pop Song by The Zambonis

Which is worse--being in a band that's considered a joke, or being trapped in a joke when you find yourself with a popular song.

That's probably the question my hero Harry Shearer asks his friends Christopher Guest and Michael McKean every single day.

But we're not talking about Spinal Tap today (although given that the trio has once again tried to convince the world that they are real musicians by putting out an album makes this entry particularly relevant). We're talking about The Zambonis.

The Zambonis were a band that came on stage in hockey gear, their sneakers painted to look like hockey skates, who then proceeded to sing songs exclusively about hockey.

No, I'm not joking.

The scary thing was that the band was good. Every one of these songs were a well-constructed number that ranged from hard rock to ska to pop to punk....and just happened to be about some aspect of hockey. This particular song is about two friends who are reviled by their families for leaving Russia, find success in the NHL, and are celebrated when they return. And it's serious when it calls itself a pop song--this has a gentle, jangly melody that's upbeat and inoffensive, some great phrasing and overall comes off as upbeat.

And as for the popular song...on their album More Songs About Hockey...and Buildings and Food, the band presented "Hockey Monkey." It's an exceedingly silly song, and the band acknowledges it in the liner notes by pointing out that when you're devoted to only writing about one thing, you're going to end up with something like "Hockey Monkey." And for no readily apparent reason, someone liked it enough to make it the theme for the Fox series The Loop, and people...well, people started discovering them. People like Nickelodeon....
The Zambonis are still around, spreading their gospel of hockey. And they don't seem to mind their status as musical oddity. They're not fighting against their status, like the Spinal Tap trio. More power to them.

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